Evans Seven: Transfers who will make biggest impact in final year
2021 Rankings: Rivals150
A slew of immediately eligible transfers promise to reshape the national title and power conference races next season. In this week’s The Evans Seven, we assess which one-year rentals will be relied upon the heaviest during their final year of college play.
1. Justin Pierce
North Carolina lost a lot in the frontcourt, and outside of Armando Bacot the Tar Heels failed to solidify the combo forward position via the high school realm. After failing to land Matthew Hurt and Precious Achiuwa, the Tar Heels were forced to look toward the grad-transfer realm and, luckily for them, the ideal remedy for their issues was available in the form of Justin Pierce. Likely to take over right where Cam Johnson left off, Pierce might not be as good of a shot-maker as the recent graduate was, but he more than makes up for that with his all-encompassing skill set. Averaging close to five assists per game last year at William & Mary, Pierce will be sharing minutes with a backcourt featuring Cole Anthony and Christian Keeling, two guards who would much rather score than distribute. If Pierce can seamlessly transition his game from the CAA into the ACC, the Tar Heels could overachieve.
2. Nate Sestina
He is not going to produce the number of points or rebounds that he did at Bucknell, but Nate Sestina, who averaged over 15 points and eight rebounds per game last season, will be a crucial addition at Kentucky. The return of Nick Richards and EJ Montgomery helps alleviate the need for Sestina to immediately stabilize the Wildcats’ backcourt. Likely to be the first big man off of UK’s bench, Sestina’s numbers might not be eye-popping, but his ability to extend the defense with the perimeter jumper and his strength will definitely help the Wildcats. Kentucky is set to enroll another elite recruiting class that is loaded with perimeter firepower, and if Sestina can keep it simple the Wildcats should have another legitimate chance at reaching the Final Four.
3. Chris Clarke
Texas Tech made sure to regroup again this offseason, thanks to a talented 2019 class that is led by its first five-star prospect in Jahmius Ramsey. In addition, the recruitment of Chris Clarke could pay major dividends next season. The return of David Moretti as a facilitating agent should help, as will an offseason of development for Kyler Edwards and Deshawn Corprew. But with Clarke, a former Virginia Tech star in tow, the Red Raiders boast one of the most difficult backcourts to game plan against. Clarke could fill the small ball 4-man role, which would make for a high-powered offense. Clarke’s first role is to make plays, not score, and that should be ideal with the number of talented prospects set to enroll, giving Chris Beard’s group another chance at March glory.
4. LaMarr Kimble
It worked last year, so why not again? It was a bit too late in the 2018 recruiting cycle for newly named Louisville head coach Chris Mack to land a ready-to-go lead guard. So, instead he hit the grad-transfer realm and, thanks to Christen Cunningham’s homecoming, the Cards got into the NCAA Tournament. This year, the need for LaMarr Kimble was evident, which made it that much easier to sell to the former St. Joe’s standout. He has battled a number of injuries throughout the years, but if Kimble can stay healthy, take a leadership role and make the proper play at the point guard position, the Cards are no longer just a potential top 4 team in the ACC, but one that could be labeled as a Final Four dark horse.
5. Jahaad Proctor
Beginning his career at Iona before moving on to High Point, where he put up tremendous numbers, Jahaad Proctor made one last move this spring. Proctor Settled on Purdue, and there is not a bigger hole to fill in the Big Ten than that of Carsen Edwards, who has moved on to the NBA. Also, Ryan Cline graduated. A supporting cast of Nojel Eastern, Eric Hunter and Brandon Newman might have sufficed, but if Matt Painter wanted to remain in contention for league supremacy an experienced and versatile guard was needed. That is exactly what he got with Proctor, who averaged over 19 points, three rebounds and three assists per game last season. Purdue may take a minor step back next season, but thanks to Proctor’s services it might not be as severe as many might have thought just a month ago.
6. James 'Beetle' Bolden
James 'Beetle' Bolden's departure from West Virginia didn't end in an ideal manner, which makes his second chance at Alabama that much more desirable for both player and program. Bolden brings with him toughness, but more importantly, the penchant for making shots. He has not had a season that he shot less than 34 percent from 3-point range, which will be crucial when playing alongside one of the quickest lead guards in the game in Kira Lewis. Throw in a shot-making wing in John Petty and there might not be many more dynamic, experienced perimeter groups in the SEC. Beetle needs to lower his turnover count, but he's likely to be used more in a scoring role and his assets should help the Tide become a sneaky SEC contender next year.
7. Admon Gilder
If he had remained at Texas A&M, Admon Gilder could have been the catalyst for Buzz Williams’ fight for an NCAA Tournament appearance during his first season in College Station. Instead, Gilder becomes Mark Few’s primary perimeter weapon. The Bulldogs will miss Josh Perkins and Zach Norvell dearly in the backcourt, and of course the early departures of Rui Hachimura and Brandon Clarke will sting, too, but with arguably the greatest class assembled in program history, it will be Gilder’s experience and scoring prowess that will be relied upon the greatest. He might not be the shot-maker that Norvell was, but he did make nearly 40 percent of his perimeter tries last season. Playing next to a bevy of talented frontcourt pieces that should give him greater room to operate, Gilder could eclipse his 12.3 points per-game average that he had last season and keep the Bulldogs in the hunt for another Final Four bid.